Relevance is critical in the new digital age, especially in the social media marketing environment. No matter how successful a tech giant’s business model may be, if innovation isn’t at the forefront (or at the very least, acquiring successful operations to absorb fancy features), popular platforms risked being tossed aside like yesterday’s news. For example, how many of you remember Meerkat, Peach, or Jelly?
Well, I do because I’m addicted to social media, but chances are that none of you even remember these three platforms.
Implementing new features is essential to the life-force of major social media platforms. Snapchat’s growth hit a wall when Instagram stole the Stories feature. Let’s be honest: that was a genius AND malevolently ruthless move, which has worked out very well for Instagram, which currently has one billion monthly active users. Twitter increased its character limit to get back into the spotlight last year, which has seen its stock increase steadily over the past year. All major social media platforms made Periscope and Meerkat irrelevant by adopting live streaming capabilities. Peach came and went, bewildering us all for a short period of time. However, one aspect of the social media world has relative remained unchanged: YouTube dominates when it comes to hosting video content.
Well, Instagram is planning to shake things up with IGTV.
What the heck IGTV?
Video may have killed the radio star, but will Instagram usurp YouTube as the king of video content? That remains to be seen. IGTV, Instagram’s new mobile app set to compete with YouTube, will allow content publishers to upload video content up to one hour long, which is 59 minutes longer than the length of videos that can be currently uploaded to Instagram. The ability to upload hour-long videos to a branded channel will be rolled out gradually, with prominent celebrities and influencers getting the first crack at being able to both amaze and bore audiences with long-form content.
IGTV is currently available in a separate application, giving users the ability to toggle back and forth between the Instagram environments seamlessly. As with YouTube, content creators will be able to personalize their channels, build followers, and embed links to drive external traffic to web properties.
What are the monetization opportunities with IGTV?
At the moment, it seems like there will not be any immediate monetization opportunities for content creators, but it’s definitely something that will be rolled out shortly, especially if Instagram wants to encourage YouTube influencers to make the migration to IGTV. Additionally, the lack of commercials and ads in the IGTV environment will be a refreshing change for social media enthusiasts and addicts alike, as both Facebook and YouTube have in-stream advertisements that annoy users to no end.
Why launching IGTV is a fantastic idea
Simply put, Instagram’s primary objective in starting IGTV is to become a significant player in the video hosting environment. YouTube has reigned supreme in this regard, remaining untouched atop the mountain after potential competitors have launched similar products and failed miserably. Even Facebook launched its own video platform for content creators, which has stagnated recently and has not picked up steam. Instagram, the mobile app that used to just be an artistic photo-sharing app with filters, now boasts one billion monthly active users, most of which upload video content and either upload Stories or watch them. Creating a video hosting platform seems like the most relevant product extension Instagram can roll out, especially if it wants to pull traffic away from competitive social media platforms.
IGTV also provides Instagram with another channel for monetization, especially once commercials become integrated within the app like YouTube. Instagram also has a golden opportunity to create ad formats that are less invasive than YouTube and Facebook video ads, which can be aggravating and hamper the user experience.
Why launching IGTV is a horrible idea
When it comes to product expansion, Facebook is familiar with features that have failed to amaze audiences. For example, Facebook’s Events app failed miserably months after launching because users preferred to utilize the “events” feature within the original Facebook app. Foursquare also deserves mentioning here because of its decision to split its original app into two, Foursquare and Swam, to separate reviews and check-ins. While other social media platforms like Facebook and Yelp integrated check-in options alongside reviews, Foursquare decided to divide the features into two different mobile apps, further confusing its audience. Instagram risks annoying its monthly active users by introducing another app that could possibly be integrated into the original mobile app.
Another potential mistake with the IGTV app is the decision to only allow videos to be shown in the vertical format, which may annoy users and content creators alike. Publishers will need to either recreate videos to be optimized for IGTV or decide to develop content for either IGTV or YouTube. A cursory scan of the existing videos uploaded to IGTV seems to indicate that users have either uploaded existing videos that are cropped significantly or published videos on the go to merely test the new mobile app. Additionally, the lack of monetization in the current iteration of the IGTV mobile application doesn’t provide high earners on YouTube with an incentive to migrate to a new platform.
Will IGTV be around in the long run?
After watching several videos and setting up my own personal channel (videos will come shortly), I can confidently say that I think Instagram’s venture into long-form video content should be successful. I’d like to emphasize the “should” aspect of the preceding sentence. While the user experience is seamless and it’s relatively easy to go from video-to-video, there are potential aspects that may lead to IGTV failing to live up to Instagram’s expectations:
- Instagram has cultivated a successful amount of monthly active users due to the ease and simplicity of its mobile application. Additionally, browsing news feeds and Stories doesn’t require a lot of data. However, trying to match YouTube will be somewhat tricky with just a mobile app, especially when long-form videos will likely eat up a lot of data.
- The absence of annoying ads and commercials is a refreshing change. Yes, as a digital marketer, I can be annoyed by in-stream ads as well, especially when they do not convert as well as other advertising formats for conversion-focused campaigns…but I digress. The success of IGTV hinges on the number of content publishers and influencers that utilize the app. While the lack of a monetization model in the initial stages is to be expected, Instagram needs to roll out an incentive for video creators within the next six-twelve months to steal market share away from YouTube. Otherwise, it risks content publishers abandoning the app and refocusing efforts on building YouTube subscribers.
- The reason why Facebook Stories is relatively unsuccessful is that users prefer to utilize Instagram’s Stories functionality. As a result, Facebook introduced a cross-posting mechanism within Instagram Stories. If IGTV is to become a resounding success, it is imperative for Instagram to incorporate cross-posting features within its application for any type of video content, whether it’s short-form videos or live-streaming content. In fact, giving content publishers and brands the ability to upload live-stream content can be a selling point in bringing on more video creators in the future.
It has been less than 24 hours since IGTV was launched by Instagram, so predicting whether the new mobile app will be successful is literally a game of chance. However, IGTV does provide YouTube with its most impressive potential competitor in years, and it should be interesting to see how Instagram’s new toy shakes up the marketplace. Either way, businesses that rely on both Instagram and video content should be hopping on the IGTV bandwagon immediately.